By Barb Arland-Fye
My friend Nancy posted one of those messages on Facebook that I usually ignore because of the request to paste it on my Facebook “wall.” But this time I did as requested because the message appealed to me, particularly in light of the health complications Nancy has endured after being treated for cancer.
The message read, in part, “The last few years have taught me that when it is our time to leave this body no one can stop it…. The material things we invest in are left behind only to be discarded. Memories are important to me. I’m going to start a ‘reunion with friends and family.’… If you are reading this message, make a comment using a single word about how we met.”
Nancy and I met through a mutual friend when I worked as a reporter for the Quad-City Times. Oops. I used two words, not one — mutual friend — to post on her wall. She responded “Quad-City Times” on my wall, so she goofed, too!
Others posted on my wall, bringing to mind warm memories of companions on this journey of life. “Grandma Arland’s house for one of those all family dinners,” wrote my cousin Kate. “Cousin/friends — many wonderful childhood memories,” my cousin Deb posted. “Beat reporter,” “CM (Catholic Messenger) Kids” column, “OLOR” (Our Lady of the River Parish), “Newspaper,” “QC Times,” other friends posted.
Nancy’s message impacted me also because of friends and colleagues who have lost a parent, spouse or sibling this year. In Psalm 39, David says to the Lord, “You have given my days a very short span; my life is as nothing before you. All mortals are but a breath.”
The preciousness of family and friends tugs at my heart. As Catholics, we believe in the immortality of the soul and in the resurrection of the body. But it’s still hard to let go of a loved one’s physical presence in our lives.
Last year when I received treatment for cancer, my parents and I talked by phone almost daily. They live a six-hour drive away in the Twin Cities and wanted to keep an eye on me, so to speak! We may not have had any “big news” to share, but the phone calls became a ritual that I cherished. Even as I enjoy remission, we still talk by phone several times a week. I love to hear their voices, to share the ordinary details, joys and frustrations of life.
On Sunday, I traveled to Burlington to report on the Rite of Candidacy for eight men in our diocese discerning a call to the diaconate. Bishop Thomas Zinkula presided at the 10 a.m. Mass at St. John Church of Divine Mercy Parish. Re-connecting with people I’ve come to know and love turned out to be one of the bonuses of this assignment.
Hannah, a Divine Mercy parishioner who underwent major surgery about a month ago, has been in my daily prayers. I wanted to let her know I’ve been thinking and praying for her but misplaced her contact information. God provided. Hannah’s mother was singing with the choir! Now I have Hannah’s contact information and can convey a virtual hug along with the prayers.
Nancy’s Facebook post couldn’t have arrived at a better time to ensure that I treasure every moment with the people who have touched my life.
(Editor Barb Arland-Fye can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)